The Story of the MCU, the Most Expensive Cinematic Universe. Phase 2 – MCU Further Development, Reasonable Risks, and Avengers 2 Release
The first phase of the MCU has recently concluded. So, what did its creators manage to present in four years of work and six released films? First, they took some lesser-known comic book heroes and made them true mythological characters that shine. Of course, every graphic-novel fan knew about Captain America and the Hulk. However, these characters previously could not compete – until the final of the first phase of the MCU – with Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Wolverine, the rights to which belonged to other film companies for some time.
Secondly, with the still small MCU, Marvel producers were able to achieve great success at the box office. Out of reach of the “Titanic” and “Avatar”, “The Avengers” took the honorable third place in the list of the highest grossing film projects in the history of cinema.
Thirdly, having popularized comics and their superheroes, Marvel has opened up ample opportunities for many actors who now do not consider it shameful to play a cartoon villain or a hero wearing tights – especially as they receive a large fee and an army of fans as a reward.
Sometime after the deafening premiere of “The Avengers”, Marvel Studios became part of the Disney company (as we talked about in the last issue) and took a year-long hiatus to develop a new blockbuster that will open the second phase of the MCU. As will be seen, the producers have continued to develop stories of well-known superheroes – Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor each received one solo movie with new characters carefully added. In addition, after the release of “The Avengers”, little-known characters began to be included in the plot of new films, and not shown only in the scenes after the credits. Producers of solo movies are not afraid to play with genres and even take a serious risk making a film about a character that only the most ardent fans of comics know about.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Starting a new phase with the release of a film about the most popular character, Marvel tells the story of Tony Stark (Iron Man) who is in trouble once again. Now, the genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as in the plot of “The Avengers” it was he who was the closest to death among other superheroes. In addition, the villain Mandarin – one of Iron Man’s main opponents in the comics – was included in the new movie plot.
Retaining an ironic atmosphere and adding a lot of colorful characters, this film has become more of a fantastic thriller than a simple superhero movie like the first two parts of “Iron Man” was.
Replacing Jon Favreau – who was probably tired of superhero movies but did not fully abandon the franchise he successfully launched, and took over as executive producer – Shane Black become a new director of the movie. While Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley, great actors, have played new villains, Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle reappear in the film’s scenes.
Being a great entertainment blockbuster, the film also gets negative reviews like ‘it used to be better’.
Most importantly, “Iron Man 3” has proven to be a hugely successful movie financially. At an unimaginable $ 1.2 billion, it is only $ 300,000 behind “The Avengers” at the box office and lands at the fifth highest grossing film ever with only “Avatar”, “Titanic”, “The Avengers” and the final film about Harry Potter ranked higher on this list.
Although the contract with Robert Downey Jr. ended after the release of “Iron Man 3”, the actor wanted to continue his collaboration with Marvel Studios in a new solo movie or in the new part of “The Avengers”. The contract was renewed, but the release of “Iron Man 4” is not planned: Marvel has a lot of ideas that revolve around the emergence and new character development.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
With a new director too, a sequel to “Thor” was released half a year later following the Iron Man triquel. Wanting to demonstrate that they are in step with the times, Marvel Studios replaced Kenneth Branagh with Alan Taylor. Despite Taylor’s track record of only three films, the studio was more interested in his successes in the television industry – Taylor directed many episodes of “Sex and the City”, “The Sopranos”, “Deadwood”, “Rome”, “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones”, cult TV shows.
Continuing to expand the Thor universe, Marvel shows new realms, the grandfather of the god of thunder and a race of dark elves who dream of destroying the world. Changed beyond recognition Christopher Eccleston (ninth Doctor Who) played the role of the leader of the dark elves.
Having returned almost all the actors who starred in the first part of “Thor”, the producers have not forgotten about Loki, who again acts more actively in the role of a trickster. Not a stand-out in the MCU, the new film still allows itself a little cameo of Captain America. The main goal of “Thor 2” – apart from the box office – is to introduce the second Infinity Stone, which – 5 years later – was again included in the storyline of “Avengers: Infinity War”. According to the plot, it is shown as Aether, a strange substance invading Jane Foster’s body.
With its excellent cast and great special effects, this film was poorly received by the public and hit the worst score according to the most film review websites. However, having grossed $ 644 million worldwide, it did not flop at the box office. Although the fate of the Thor films is unknown, it is already clear that new ideas are needed. Meanwhile, Chris Hemsworth, the lead actor, announced a new deal with Marvel for one solo movie and two crossovers about the Avengers.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Marvel Studios continues to experiment with genres, forms and directors.
The second Captain America film was released on March 13, 2014. Having previously worked on “Arrested Development” and “Community” comedy series, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo – confirming the studio’s interest in the television series industry – were selected by Marvel as directors. By relying on new directors, the studio won: the new film surpassed 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” at the box office in half.
Surprisingly shot in the spirit of spy thrillers, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” looks more like a remake of “Three Days of the Condor” than a new superhero movie. Featuring several new key characters, this film opens up new possibilities for the Black Widow – and Scarlett Johannson is enthusiastic about this new challenge.
In addition, many action scenes have been added to the film – just look at the hand-to-hand combat scene in the elevator that deserves the highest praise!
Unexpectedly, the Russo brothers, who became famous as directors of television comedy, became the Marvel studio ideas conductors. As if they knew exactly what audiences, critics and film producers needed, they directed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, which took third place on the list of highest grossing films under the franchise, behind only “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3”. Critically acclaimed, the movie contributed to the further development of the MCU.
Undoubtedly, this success leads to the filming of another solo movie about Captain America. Released two years after the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” premiere, the new film was directed by the same Russo brothers who will continue their work in the MCU in order to present another movie that became the highest grossing in history a few years later.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Continuing their rather risky experiments, Marvel Studios spent about $ 200 million to shoot a new film about characters familiar to only the most notorious geeks.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is nothing more than a film phenomenon. With James Gunn, the director of hooligan and controversial comedies, as well as lesser-known actors and a very obvious plot, this film was a real hit, received universal acclaim and grossed $ 800 million at the box office.
The lead actor Chris Pratt is the new star who found himself as a part of the cult film franchise “Jurassic Park”. In addition, he has every chance of becoming the new Indiana Jones role performer. And James Gunn received an offer to lead the ‘space line’ of the MCU.
While Marvel promptly released a sequel to “Guardians of the Galaxy”, viewers speculated on how the Milano goofs can interact with the more serious Avengers.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is an excellent show with wonderful characters among whom it is difficult to choose the favorite one. The new MCU blockbuster is delightful not only for its humor, special effects and unexpected plot twists. The audience was presented with a vivid film, excellent in the context of the development of the cinematic universe, when it becomes clear that the producers are not at all interested in producing identical films showing flying men in tights. Offering a completely different concept of superhero cinema that was successfully accepted by audiences (and supported financially as the film proved to be very successful in terms of box office), Marvel Studios is ready for new experiments.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Meanwhile, Marvel Studios continues to expand the boundaries of its cinematic universe. It’s time for the second global MCU crossover, featuring not only the old Avengers, but a bunch of new characters as well. Marvel has gathered all the characters that have appeared earlier in its films, with the exception of the Winter Soldier whose time will come a year later, the Guardian of the Galaxy who continue their space travel and Loki who will undoubtedly still prove himself in the future.
Having already earned $ 1.5 billion for the Marvel Studios, Joss Whedonn begins development of the second part of “The Avengers”. Looking ahead, this film will be the last in his career to be shot for the MCU.
“The Avengers: Age of Ultron” strives to showcase that it is bigger, cooler and more expensive than the first movie – however, its never-ending stream of battles can be exhausting for the viewer. However, this is not a reason for reproaching the director, since the audience knows what they can expect when buying tickets.
With a budget of $ 365 million, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was ranked second on the list of the most expensive film projects. The final box office grossed $ 1.4 billion, making “Avengers: Age of Ultron” the fifth highest grossing movie in history. However, Marvel Studios and Disney were expecting something more as the new project lost out to the original Avengers in terms of profitability.
The plot of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in particular covers the conflict in Sokovia, a fictional country located somewhere in Eastern Europe. As a result of the battle between superheroes and the villain Ultron – which, by the way, was created by the Avengers themselves – many people died. The UN was forced to design the Sokovia Accords, which would register all superheroes. The controversy surrounding the Sokovia Accords has led to a rift in the Avengers, which – along with Thanos – will be in the spotlight in the next phase of the MCU.
The ranks of the team have replenished with new superheroes – Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Warrior. As viewers prepare for Thanos – previously only seen in off-camera scenes – the studio is counting profits and thinking about new experiments.
Perhaps the most unnecessary and miniature – however, one that has played an important role in the mythology of Marvel – MCU film, “Ant-Man” was released a few months after the premiere of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”.
In the Marvel comics, Ant-Man was Hank Pym and later Scott Lang. Both characters appear in the new film: according to the original source, Pym constructs a shrink-enlargement suit, and Lang steals it.
There were some hiccups in the production of the new blockbuster: originally being a director of the movie, Edgar Wright (the author of the cult “Shaun of the Dead”) left the project a year before its release due to ‘creative differences’. As a result, Peyton Reed, author of several comedy films and “New Girl” TV series, was hired by Marvel Studios to shoot “Ant-Man”. After rewriting the script, he hired Paul Rudd, a pretty good comedian, to play the lead role. It was Paul who played Scott Lang while Michael Douglas himself played the role of Hank Pym (the previous Ant-Man). The all-star cast also includes Evangeline Lilly (the main character’s love interest), “Lost” star, and Corey Stoll (the antagonist named ‘Yellowjacket’).
It is noteworthy that in the Marvel comic universe, Ant-Man was one of the first members of the Avengers team and it was he who created the villain Ultron. However, clearly assuming his important participation in the global crossover which will take place in four years, Marvel decided to present the character only at the end of the second phase of the MCU.
At times reminiscent of the 1990s family films, “Ant-Man” is a pretty tube movie. While the children’s railway becomes the battleground for the final fight, the movie is largely self-ironic and come in great contrast to “The Avengers”.
With a budget of $ 130 million (the cheapest film under the franchise), Ant-Man brings in $ 500 million at the box office. As the movie was well received by critics, Marvel Studios announced plans to shoot a sequel. So, that was how the second phase of the MCU ended.
The results of the MCU second phase were impressive – the Marvel experiments were crowned with success. The film studio managed not only to preserve the results of the first phase, but also to significantly increase the box office. While maintaining the same mood, the films of the second phase are very different from each other: Marvel tried himself in the genres of spy thriller (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”), fantasy (“Thor: The Dark World”), space fiction (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and a family comedy (“Ant-Man”). Anyone who read the news about the development of the franchise at that moment, could come to the conclusion that the MCU has a great future – experiments, focus on different types of viewers, and box office records.
In addition, after the final of the MCU second phase, it became known that Marvel had successful negotiations with Sony, which for a long time owned the rights to Spider-Man. Now, that the studios have started collaborating, Peter Parker will be added to the MCU.
Taking a year-long hiatus, Marvel Studios was preparing for the third phase, which began with “Captain America: Civil War”, the next billionaire-blockbuster premiered on May 5, 2016.
Меня зовут Игорь. Я из тех, кто постоянно выискивает себе новые увлечения. Начинал с зоологии и чтения в детстве и докатился до путешествий, кино и истории искусства. Не могу жить без новых книг, новых телешоу и новых стран. Свято верю в науку, доброту и то, что впечатлениями надо делиться. Учу языки, планирую поездки разного километража и пишу про кино и сериалы.